>September was a completely demoralizing month, because summer refused to release us from its grip, and the blazing hot days stretched right through the month into the first week of October. At the end of September, we celebrated the Mid Autumn Moon Festival with moon cakes that my mother sent us all the way from NY. The moon was so bright, I felt as if we were on it, experiencing lunar daylight. It is such a cool, soothing, silver light, quite unlike the relentless glare of the still hostile sun.
Then, in the second week of October, the air cooled and even the light seemed to have changed. Instead of summer’s sultry blaze, there was instead something altogether clearer and almost sparkling. It made us breathe deeply and sigh contentedly. Relief at last! Still no rain, though.
The delay in rain did give us time to get ready for the cooler, wetter months. With help from our neighbors, we dismembered a fallen tree on our road for firewood, Ali scrambled up on to our steep roof to weatherproof the windows, and Baki and I collected pine cones and kindling from the forest floor. Our enthusiasm was dampened once Baki spotted a scorpion in the pine needles and I didn’t manage to kill it.
Other signs of fall included the juggling festival at Sundance. Baki and I joined an expedition up to Yanar Tas (literally “burning rocks”), also known as Chimaera, a mountainside plain of rocks with tongues of flame emerging from beneath them. Everyone had been given a sucuk sausage and a piece of bread, then we all piled on to buses towards sunset and trekked up the mountainside. We arrived at the top thoroughly winded, and set about cooking our sausages on the fire.
Baki was a little afraid of the fire, but he went wild for the sucuk; in fact, he ate all of mine as well! After dark, there was fire juggling, fire poi, even a flaming hula hoop. The highlight of the night for Baki was the fire breathing – he has sworn to learn how to do it when he grows up.
After Yanar Tas, we had our first rain, and the following weekend we went up to yayla, the summer pastures, to help our neighbors bring down a newborn calf while they walked down with mama and another pregnant cow. It is amazing up there, about 1800 meters above sea level. As we made our way up, we began to see cedars, their branches stretched out like upturned palms from their trunks. The sky up there seems both closer and larger up there, and there is such a sense of freedom there, that I always feel as if I might be able to just stretch my arms and fly. I think that being so much closer to the tops of the mountains makes me feel as if I am at the ceiling of the world.
Now it is rainy and grey out, and I have to say that I love it. The cooler weather has brought us back out into the garden, and there are all sorts of rewarding chores lined up. Our mountainside is bustling with activity – the pomegranate orchards are all being picked and huge trucks filled with crates of fruit trundle down the road. Yesterday I passed my neighbors in the middle of an epic pekmez operation. They had harvested a mountain of grapes, and had juiced them all and were boiling five huge cauldrons of juice over smoldering logs to make thick, brown pekmez. They were still working well into the night. We make pekmez too, when our neighbors give us grapes, but it is on a much smaller scale.
Oh, and we ate our first apple from the garden. It was great!